Yoga to Go #4Nancy Sutton
Year Released: 2006
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I’m reviewing this workout after doing it once.
General workout breakdown: This ~55-min. classical hatha yoga practice begins seated (or lying down) to breathe, set one’s mindset, etc. You then do some seated stretches and gentle twists before moving into a kneeling flow (child’s – chaturanga – cobra), then back to seated for several variations of janu sirsasana before doing malasana (either a seated variation or the normal squatting one), which ventures into crow. Rolling up from uttanasana, you head back into an extended adho mukha svanasana, slowly working the legs towards straight, before moving into a held chaturanga (plank). High lunge (moving into crescent if desired), parsvottanasana, and parivrrta trikonasana are done with vinyasas (your choice of the normal down dog – up dog or something more like a rolling chaturanga) in between, and then a balance series comes with virabadrasana III, vriksasana, and a standing half lotus which comes down into a squating balance pose if your knees allow. Turning to the side brings you into a wide-legged standing forward bend from which you rise into sirsasana (here done in the tripod variation). You return to the wide-legged standing forward bend for a few variations, including parighasana, before moving to the floor for a supine twist and salamba sarvangasana (here done in a supported half-version). The final pose is savasana, after which you return to a seated position to close the practice.
The pace here is laidback, definitely not too fast or rushed, but not too slow, either, with more than enough time to transition between poses. Poses aren’t held for a terribly long time, although the savasana is of decent enough length.
Level: Nancy recommends this to intermediate to advanced yoga practicers who are familiar with headstand, crow, and similar poses. One could grouse with the “advanced” label, since this isn’t among the strongest practices out there, but one really ought to be fully comfortable with intermediate+ yoga.
I’ve been practicing yoga for 7 years or so now, although I’ve never gotten past the intermediate stage (into headstands, arm balances, etc.). This practice assumes more flexibility and strength than I have, so I modify or substitute where appropriate (e.g. staying in the standing forward bend instead of moving into the headstand). Since Nancy often offers suggestions of modifications or other variations and encourages you to work at your level in that moment, I don’t feel guilty making this practice my own.
Class: Nancy’s by herself, with instruction via voiceover.
Music: [on my copy, at least] sound of gentle waves lapping on the shore (although this comes off as kind of staticky), with men’s choral (ah-ah type stuff) during the savasana.
Set: Nancy’s alone on a mat on a pebble-lined beach along the Yuma River in Washington, CA, on a bright, sunny day.
Production: clear picture, decent sound. This is a low budget production, done by Nancy and her husband with their own equipment, yet because this is a labor of love by someone who’s interested in the material more than the medium it’s more user friendly than some of the big budget productions (you know, the ones where the cinematographer’s dying for an Oscar…). If you have no problem with the media released by Erich Schiffmann, Tilak Pyle, Raji Thron, etc., you’ll be fine with this.
Equipment: yoga sticky mat (or equivalent); you may also want whatever props you normally use (e.g. blanket, block).
Space Requirements: enough room to perform a full sun salutation and to lie down with arms and legs extended, with enough room behind you for a brief plow.
DVD Notes: This is a DVD-R. I have trouble playing this in my increasingly picky 6-year-old Toshiba DVD player but not in my laptop or the PS2.
Please note that Nancy has tinkered with previous productions based on feedback from users, so what I write here may only apply to the batch of DVD-Rs that I have (I bought mine from Nancy’s website, http://www.nshouseofyoga.com/, in Dec. 2007).
The main menu on my DVD-R has these chapters: Introduction, Practice (Breathing, Seated Stretching, Kneeling Flow, Janu Sirsasana, Malasana, Bhakasana, Uttanasana, Adho Muka Svanasana, High Chaturanga, High Lunge, Parsvottanasana, Parivrrta Trikonasana, Virabadrasana III, Vriksasana, Squating Balance Pose, Sirsasana, Parighasana, Supine Twist, Salamba Sarvangasana, Savasana), Swim (here Nancy goes skinny dipping in the river, but it’s tastefully done, with nothing showing), & Donation.
Comments: #4 makes an interesting complement of sorts to #1/2. They have similar basic structures: begin with a seated meditation of sorts, gradually wake up different parts of the body, connect several poses through a vinyasa, and come back down for a few more floor exercises before ending in savasana. Yet they select from different poses: #1/2 has warrior 1, warrior 2, and triangle, while #3 does revolved triangle and includes balance work instead of the “third side.” #4 is definitely the most challenging of the five Yoga to Go practices currently available, although the challenge comes more from the more advanced nature of the poses than from a faster speed, more vinyasas, longer holds, etc.
#5 is in some ways the gentler or preparatory version of #4. Which one someone should acquire depends upon his/her level and interests: #5 is best if you’re still new(ish) to yoga, if you’re not comfortable with poses like headstand, or if you’re looking for something gentler.
Nancy has a pleasant, low key personality and voice. She’s focused on the practice itself, with no extraneous chatter. Nancy includes a good amount of form instruction as well as tips and reminders but doesn’t overwhelm with tons of details. She cues for her right and left. She alternates between Sanskrit and English names for poses. Her language is primarily straightforward and plain.
Nancy comes to yoga from her background in healthwork: her “day job” is registered nurse. She’s studied with teachers in the Iyengar, Anusara, White Lotus (Tracy Rich & Ganga White of Total Yoga), and structural yoga therapy traditions, although she isn’t as focused on form and alignment here as you might think given her background. (There is a bit more Anusara influence here than in some of her other Yoga to Gos, with its emphasis on lifting the heart and spiraling the legs.)